Friday, April 30, 2010

Table Lady.

A woman was interested in a small side table and asked me to put it on hold while she thought about it. She came back about an hour later and said she would buy it. When I rang up her purchase, she got an angry look and said "That's not right!" and started going off about how when she was in earlier (an hour before), the price was $50 less.

Ah. That game. Lady, I've played it before. See, the customer acts irate and keeps mentioning the price they thought was correct (a.k.a. the price they want to pay) for the item. In the case yesterday, she kept saying "it was like $130!". They are hoping that the clerk will freak out and panic and lower the price because "the customer is always right." Sometimes the customer will escalate the situation to accusations. "YOU changed the price!" The woman yesterday was very close to it. I was silently daring her. Come on. Go ahead. Tell me I raised the price as soon as you left. Say it aloud and listen to your own bullshit.

The weirdest part about situations like this is that they are still a sort of conversation. The customer says all these crazy angry things and then shut up and wait for a response. When this happened with the table lady, I did the following things:
1. read the price tags aloud. "This is the regular price," I said, "and this is the sale price."
2. looked in our sale book to confirm the prices. I also read these prices out loud.
3. suggested that maybe she had seen a different round side table with the same price. Even though I knew we didn't have anything like her table in her suggested price range, we went on a hunt through the store looking at every table. And when this didn't produce any results, I
4. noted that there was a slight smudge on the plastic sleeve holding the price tag for her table and maybe that smudge made the 9 look like a 3?
5. asked her if she wanted me to hold the table a little longer if she needed to think about it.

Basically, "Bitch. Give it up."

"Oh, I'll just get it!" she said. And then what does she do? She pulls out a wad of cash, for the exact amount of the table as it's posted.

Games, I tell you. Fucking playing games.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chili Pepper Light Man

Guess who's back. Chili pepper light guy. I am sure it is the same man. Every year, he either stops by the store or calls inquiring about chili pepper lights. And every year we have the same conversation.

CPLM: Hi! Do you guys have any pepper lights?

Clerk (me): Pepper lights?

CPLM: Yea! You know! Like a string of lights that look like peppers!

Clerk: Oh! We don't! Sorry!

CPLM: Man! I can't believe you don't have them! They're so cool! Do you think you'll be getting any? Maybe for Cinco de Mayo?

Clerk: I don't know! I haven't heard that we were getting any. We've had them in the past, but I don't know if we'll get them in again.

CPLM: Well, you should tell your boss to get them! They are so fun!

Clerk: Yea! They are fun! Ok, bye!

When I first started this job, there was one lonely string of tangled pepper lights in the clearance room. They had already been down there for half a decade. That was the only time I got to make Chili Pepper Light Man's day: selling him those clearance lights. But he comes back every year, hoping to score.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Our store sends out a birthday coupon to customers on our mailing list. When people redeem the coupon, I often wish them a "Happy Birthday" as they walk away from the register. I think it is a nice change from Haveaniceday or Enjoythesunshine and other robot phrases. Sometimes, and I love this, when I say Happy Birthday, the customer will say "You too." I know it is because they aren't really listening, but I think it's funny.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Good Pen

One customer I helped yesterday was buying some gifty shit. I thought she was going to try to pull the ever-so-popular gift wrap trick. But she didn't. She did want to borrow a pen to fill out a card she had purchased and was craning her head over and around the counter looking into my register area for a "good pen." She didn't want the regular old ball point pen she'd just used to sign her credit card slip.

I keep several "good pens" in my apron. Usually they are floating around like logs in a tiny lake of papers, but the past couple days, I've been clipping them to the top of my pockets so they are easy for me to find. As soon as the words "good pen" came out of her mouth, I discreetly turned and flipped all my pens into my pockets and out of sight.

Here's the thing: I cannot share pens. With anyone. Co-workers understand. They would never badger me "come on let me use your good pen!" They would find their own damn pen and then gloat about how it is the best pen ever. But if customers see a pen in hanging on your pocket, they will ask, or rather, they will say "you've got a good pen right there!" and to cover my unwillingness to share I will laugh and pretend I forgot I had them and then watch anxiously as they clip and press my precious and then I will use a Clorox wipe on my good pen later when I FINALLY get it back.

I found a "good pen" for the customer. There was a ratty yet reliable old thing rolling around in one of the pen jars. She did not use it. It was not the right kind of good pen. And I thought I was weird.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pineapple Peeler Update

Back in September, I ranted about an old man that wanted a pineapple peeler. Well old man, your dreams have come true. The pineapple cutter is now available for sale at our store!

I have not used this gadget yet, but I give it points for being made in the U.S.A. and for have multiple uses, which they proudly point out on the website and product label. If I ate a lot of pineapple, I would totally buy this gadget. I would also buy this if I did a lot of entertaining and used pineapple rings in salads and cakes and when people said how delicious the food was, I could tell them that the pineapple was fresh, not canned, and doesn't it make all the difference?

Looking at this picture makes me salivate for pineapple, specifically the long skinny donut hole cut-out. That woody center is my favorite part of pineapple.

Oh my gawd. I am totally selling this product to myself.

Always and Forever

Last night I was at a little party at my friend's house. There was a girl there that had just quit her crappy job at a deli. She was full of food service horror stories, which in my experience are always more demeaning than retail stories because hungry people are scarier. I laughed and shook my head with each recount of mocha making, soup questions, and sprout mix-ups.

I have heard all of it before. I have lived it. I have told those stories. They still amaze and amuse me because customers never change. And delis never get smart and treat employees well, forever turning what seems to be a simple job into an exhausting, humiliating experience that traumatizes the young folk that are milled through.

Is this how it always has been and always will be? I had a vistion of customer service life as a giant snail shell and I bisected it with my mind and can see the spiraling inward to invisibility and the pattern for the same growth outward and forever. And we are somewhere on that coil but we don't know where and it doesn't matter anyway because this is just supposed to be a temporary job and when we are grown ups with careers, we will be nice to the service folk. Right?!?

Friday, April 23, 2010


Yesterday I was going through the swatches and pulling discontinued fabrics. Here were some of my favorite ridiculous fabric names:

Understudy Nugget
Exhale Hemp
Lovebug Toffee
Sophisticate Sesame
Endurance Cappuccino
Renegade Coffee
Colossus Doe
Flower-Power Fondue
Raptor Taupe
In-the-Mood Walnut
Peacemaker Chocolate
Vitalize Shiitake
Spaceship Spa

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pillow Fight

The other day this old woman came in looking for outdoor cushions. We have 2 sizes of cushions. She bought 4 of one size to fit some of her chairs, not knowing if they would actually fit her chairs, and then asked if we had more because she had a larger chair that needed a special cushion.

She tried to describe the cushion and failed. "It sort of goes up to a piece and then there is another piece and they are connected." That was what she was giving me to go on. I showed her the catalog with other cushions that we can special order and asked if any of the shapes looked like her cushion. She didn't know. She also didn't know vital information, like the measurements.

I suggested she bring in the larger cushion and a tracing of the others chairs that she wasn't sure about. Then we could help her get accurate measurements and see if there was a comparable size available in the catalog.

Three days later, I was called over the intercom to come to the counter. There was the cushion lady and she was furious. She had come back with her large cushion and tracing and the clerk had done exactly what I suggested we do: get the measurements which the customer didn't have and was confused about. When they could not find an appropriate size in the catalog, she went nuts, yelling about how I promised her that they could custom make any cushion size she needed.

I would never be so stupid as to promise something to a customer, especially something that was untrue. I did make the mistake of telling her I was sorry if she misunderstood me. That sent her into a rage, because, remember, "the customer is always right."

At some point, I took over and stopped apologizing and moved on. I told her that I would be happy to write down the number of a place that does make custom cushions. "Yes! You are going to do that! You are going to find that information for me and write it down on a blank piece of paper and you are going to tell me how to get there!" she said.

She ranted a little more about how we'd let her down and how she couldn't trust me. Then she shuffled out to her car in the handicap spot and drove off.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm not that kind of girl

Yesterday a customer thanked me for wearing unchipped nail polish. "Chipped nail color is disgusting. It's so gross when you're at a restaurant and the waitress has chipped nail polish. Like, is it in my food?" I went along with her fantasy that I was someone that keeps a maintained appearance. I did not tell her that my usual way to wear nail polish is to apply a fresh coat every morning and then pick it off when it is 6 or 7 layers thick. And I definitely didn't tell her that the reason I put nail polish on in the first place was to cover up some muck that was embedded in my cuticles from a project on my day off.

Laying in bed this morning, I was staring at my fingers and thought, "Maybe I will start getting manicures and pedicures. It will be something I do for myself and something that people mention if they are asked to describe my habits and hygiene, like after I pass away. 'She always had her weekly manicure. Her nails always looked good'."

Then I remembered that I am poor and lazy. I can think of so many better ways to spend my money. I am too lazy to drag myself to a salon so that a nail technician can toil over my messed up little claws. And when it comes down to it, I don't give a fig if my chipped nails offend some judgey bitch.